Redirect first-class male?

July 16, 2004

With a July Cabinet reshuffle looking likely, the Westminster rumour mill is working overtime. A hot contender for a move is Alan Johnson, the ex-postman-turned-Minister for Higher Education. House of Commons insiders report that Prime Minister Tony Blair is keen to reward him for his work pushing through the Higher Education Bill with a plum political job away from those penniless and rather moany universities. What this new job could be is anyone's guess, but possibilities doing the rounds include him taking over as Chief Secretary to the Treasury or Chairman of the Labour Party.

And although Lord Sainsbury, the broadly popular Science Minister, is furiously denying rumours that he will be abandoning research for the family business, many refuse to believe him. But who would step into his shoes? Sources in the House of Commons predict somewhat gloomily that a safe junior figure with no science connections would be drafted in.

Early rumours that friend of the Blairs Baroness Greenfield would top the list seem to have died down. But the suggestion that Paul Drayson, the controversial Labour Party donor and founder of one of the most successful university spin-off companies, might become the next Lord Sainsbury is ruffling many academic feathers.

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